Letter: Elitist Mountain Bikers

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602 S. Gay Street
2nd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902

For those unfamiliar with the benefits of greenways, I will share some. Greenways provide safe routes for city residents who, either by necessity or choice, walk on foot or ride a bicycle. These people include the old and young, black and white, middle class and lower (and sometimes upper), children and adults and the elderly. They also include the songbirds and turtles and rabbits (I should say that both the slow and fast travel on greenways, the feathered, furry, and leathery). Greenways are a habitat for our little forgotten friends, too.

Greenways provide a route that is a refuge from noisy, polluted city streets. Many places in our city, built only with cars in mind, are terrifyingly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists (the 640 section of Broadway is just one example). Thus the need for greenways for all the many people and creatures for whom it’s necessary or simply desired to travel without an automobile.

If you haven’t looked out your car window lately, that’s a lot of folks and critters. And our numbers are becoming greater by the day. As gas prices rise and more become aware of global climate change, many people feel compelled to travel without gasoline. If you’ll take notice while driving through East, South, and North Knoxville, there are people of all kinds bravely navigating the streets and sidewalks with their own bodies. While this is good and grand, it is also rough.

Automobiles (since we have no emission standards in this state) are literally spewing pollution, sidewalks are broken, littered with shattered glass, and without shade—which can be fatal in global warming temperatures. The morale of Knoxville’s pedestrians is degraded more and more each day as we feel pushed to the edges and forgotten.

Meanwhile, on Aug. 14, city and county officials joined Legacy Parks in the official opening of 15 miles of recreational trail in South Knoxville. These trails—touted specifically as mountain biking trails by Legacy Parks—will be enjoyed mostly by wealthy, white males in a purely recreational activity that destroys forest habitat. This makes obvious the class divide in our fine city. It was nothing to secure the funding and official support for this project, while getting one mere mile added to our greenways is framed as next to impossible. I have been holding out the hope for years that our greenways would be extended, connected, and improved. Still, no progress has been made on the ground. Curiously, the Knoxville Greenways Coalition was one of three key donors to the 15 miles of mountain biking trails. But this is not a greenway. Like our local government, it is not by or for the people. It is by and for a wealthy elite.

The only side of town with direct, safe, pleasant access to downtown via a greenway is the West side. While the richest part of Knoxville gets to have its greenway and build its recreational trails, the other sides, the ones that so desperately need safe routes for travel, are neglected. I am starting to feel now, as many do, that the city of Knoxville is blatantly ignoring the needs of its people.

Holly Haworth

Knoxville

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Comments » 16

JSwitow writes:

Ms. Hayworth,
Surely you jest! I am proud to call myself a member of this "mostly by wealthy, white males" as you call us. I am white and aspire to be wealthy and have a comfortable retirement one of these days. I'm not wealthy now though, and neither are most of those out there enjoying the trails. I certainly don't begrudge those who are.....and I see them all out there building trails on weekends.
A bike is a wonderful thing, most of us feel like we're 12 again when we get on them... and I'm a long way from 12! That is the great thing about mountain biking and America, you can go get it if you want it. You don't have to be wealthy, not even particularly fit, you just have to have the will and a bit of a sense of adventure (stick with it though and you will get fit!). Money may buy you a nice bike, but it won't make you better rider....you have to earn that.
Most of the trails built in South Knoxville and elsewhere in the county have been built by volunteers with a load of "sweat equity", mostly on land that was basically abandoned or used for a dump site. There are a few nights when the trails may be overrun with mountain bikers (Tuesday in South Knox for ex), but most nights and days the trails built by the mountain biking community are there for all to use. The mountain biking community is a great bunch of people and are always looking for/welcoming more great, fun, willing to "pitch-in" people to join the ranks, you should give it a shot. Tuesday nights at Mead's quarry is a great time to show up, there are all levels of rides and loads of comradery! There are other nights when beginner's rides are held, I used to take my son out to one on Wednesday nights last summer, again, starting at Mead's quarry. That ride was/is put on by Tennessee Valley Bikes (a good place to start looking into this crazy sport!)
Come get to know this group a bit, I bet they will change your mind. You won't be the only lady out there and.... you might even have some fun? Actually I can almost guarantee it!
Best,
John

framebender writes:

Wow. I did'nt know the 23k I made last year made me part of the "wealthy elite".

poowilliams writes:

Holly, do you know who's even worse than a elitist mountain biker? A stupid hippie piratewhore.

GoneFission writes:

Holly, I think you don't have all of your facts straight. John touched on it mentioning that that South Knox land was largely abandoned and that the sweat to build the trails came from groups of cyclist themselves. These folks saw an opportunity to create something and went out and accomplished it. Most of the guys I know out there (myself included) are nowhere near wealthy. If they are elite at all, I would say that it's physically after all the hard work and then the riding.
You mention the difficulty of adding a mile to the greenway, but the issues there are far more complex than you seem to realize. Prime real estate for extending or creating greenway space within the city is difficult to secure usually because somebody actively owns it, has other plans for it, wants to use it for some advantage politically, et cetera, et cetera.
However, I would encourage you to do what the folks in South Knox are doing. If you want something (like an extended greenway network), work hard for it. But grumbling about it in Metro Pulse won't do much for you (aside from catharsis, perhaps).

ezduzit writes:

I can't believe that Metro Pulse even published this letter. I understand freedom of speech but Holly's letter has so many unsubstantiated claims it is ridiculous. I did a search on Holly and ran across a few more of her unsubstantiated articles and letters. I work in the environmental industry and I can guarantee that this woman has no clue what she is talking about. Has Holly even seen the trails she is complaining about? Before the mountain bike club came in, many portions of the trail system were a complete dump that is now cleaned up. I go there frequently and the whole system provides a recreational opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts and local residents. There is no question that the trail system has improved the quality of life for so many including the rich, poor, black, white, and any combination you can think of. And greenways....has Holly bothered to look at the MPC long-term plans for the greenway system? It appears to me that the greenways will/are evenly distributed across all sectors of the county and city. The City just finished up a new segment of the greenway alongside the interstate at Papermill. Holly has offended the hard work of so many with this letter it would be impossible to list them all. Please Holly, move somewhere else. Knoxville does not need your ignorance and prejudice.

zakuhryeuh writes:

I feel that all of the above commenters would do well to reread the letter. Haworth was not attacking anyone's right to be a mountain biker, but merely drawing attention to the disparity in rights between those who ride bikes for transportation versus those who ride for entertainment. Not to mention that a letter to the editor is not an article and primarily expresses an opinion rather than a body of research data. As someone who rides for transportation, rather than just for fun, I find Haworth's assessment of the situation very valid. The truth is, I have lived in several cities in the US and Knoxville is severely lagging in this arena. Even something as simple as the awareness that bicycles belong in the street and not on the sidewalk seems to be missing. It seems from your comments that you all read the title (written by MetroPulse, I have no doubt) and skipped actually reading the letter. The disproportionately hostile reaction to this opinion makes me think that perhaps she has struck a nerve— that perhaps the guilt associated with your white privilege is exerting itself as meaningless aggression. It's a common trope for the haute bourgeois to repeat the mantra "I am by no means wealthy," as if speaking it will make it so. But, I suppose Voltaire knew best: "No man is satisfied with his fortune, yet every man is satisfied with his wit."

zakuhryeuh writes:

in response to ezduzit:

I can't believe that Metro Pulse even published this letter. I understand freedom of speech but Holly's letter has so many unsubstantiated claims it is ridiculous. I did a search on Holly and ran across a few more of her unsubstantiated articles and letters. I work in the environmental industry and I can guarantee that this woman has no clue what she is talking about. Has Holly even seen the trails she is complaining about? Before the mountain bike club came in, many portions of the trail system were a complete dump that is now cleaned up. I go there frequently and the whole system provides a recreational opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts and local residents. There is no question that the trail system has improved the quality of life for so many including the rich, poor, black, white, and any combination you can think of. And greenways....has Holly bothered to look at the MPC long-term plans for the greenway system? It appears to me that the greenways will/are evenly distributed across all sectors of the county and city. The City just finished up a new segment of the greenway alongside the interstate at Papermill. Holly has offended the hard work of so many with this letter it would be impossible to list them all. Please Holly, move somewhere else. Knoxville does not need your ignorance and prejudice.

"move somewhere else"— yet another conceit of the high bourgeois. poor people can't move places, silly.

ezduzit writes:

in response to zakuhryeuh:

I feel that all of the above commenters would do well to reread the letter. Haworth was not attacking anyone's right to be a mountain biker, but merely drawing attention to the disparity in rights between those who ride bikes for transportation versus those who ride for entertainment. Not to mention that a letter to the editor is not an article and primarily expresses an opinion rather than a body of research data. As someone who rides for transportation, rather than just for fun, I find Haworth's assessment of the situation very valid. The truth is, I have lived in several cities in the US and Knoxville is severely lagging in this arena. Even something as simple as the awareness that bicycles belong in the street and not on the sidewalk seems to be missing. It seems from your comments that you all read the title (written by MetroPulse, I have no doubt) and skipped actually reading the letter. The disproportionately hostile reaction to this opinion makes me think that perhaps she has struck a nerve— that perhaps the guilt associated with your white privilege is exerting itself as meaningless aggression. It's a common trope for the haute bourgeois to repeat the mantra "I am by no means wealthy," as if speaking it will make it so. But, I suppose Voltaire knew best: "No man is satisfied with his fortune, yet every man is satisfied with his wit."

What the heck is wrong with riding a bike for entertainment (exercise)? Most of the mountain bikers I know are proponents of bike transporation around town and have worked hard at making it better. I know several mountain bikers that commute everyday. If people like you and Ms. Haworth got involved like the rest of us in various pro-bike groups in Knoxville then you might see the hard work that is being done "behind the scenes" to make Knoxville a better place both on and off the road. Knoxville may not be the most bike frinedly place in town but we are working on it. I would suggest Ms. Haworth do some research before posting on topics she obviously knows nothing about. White privelege has absolutely nothing to do with this whatsoever. I see bums riding bikes all around town - black ones, white ones, and some crazy ones.

Japhy10 writes:

Her letter has a solid point. In regard to a matter of basic needs transportation is more important than recreation. There are so many overlooked parts of Knoxville that are lacking in safe non-motorized transport.

JoshBrem writes:

Alot of hard work has gone into those trails Holly. Its true that we had to weigh the interests of the environment and perhaps other non-biking types against the interest of our minority with city funding. But, I would counter by saying that in the end that land was abandoned, and lets face it worthless, until we came in there with our machinery to cut and level trails so that we could recreate in our free-time. Furthermore, we feel that this option is the healthiest in the long term. After all, that land has been abused for a long time by humans and it is not healthy, hence, not really worth the time to even think about any other option but pure fun. We've basically summarized this whole view point in the logo for our project. We have a leaf with tire prints on it, now FINALLY nature and everybody else can take a back seat for ONCE and let us have a little fun. I mean for real, this city is like a nature preserve as it is; this one area wont hurt. Now, if we could just get the remaining animals off of the land - to prevent any mishaps for our bikes - and perhaps disturb enough soil to allow invasive (easy to chop) species in there it'll be perfect.

Josh Bremseth
President of The Mtn Bikers of God Bless America

ezduzit writes:

in response to JoshBrem:

Alot of hard work has gone into those trails Holly. Its true that we had to weigh the interests of the environment and perhaps other non-biking types against the interest of our minority with city funding. But, I would counter by saying that in the end that land was abandoned, and lets face it worthless, until we came in there with our machinery to cut and level trails so that we could recreate in our free-time. Furthermore, we feel that this option is the healthiest in the long term. After all, that land has been abused for a long time by humans and it is not healthy, hence, not really worth the time to even think about any other option but pure fun. We've basically summarized this whole view point in the logo for our project. We have a leaf with tire prints on it, now FINALLY nature and everybody else can take a back seat for ONCE and let us have a little fun. I mean for real, this city is like a nature preserve as it is; this one area wont hurt. Now, if we could just get the remaining animals off of the land - to prevent any mishaps for our bikes - and perhaps disturb enough soil to allow invasive (easy to chop) species in there it'll be perfect.

Josh Bremseth
President of The Mtn Bikers of God Bless America

Josh, you are absolutely retarded. You people do not get it at all. The trails are a catalyst for change in the County. I have performed dozens of environmental impact studies for various projects across the country. This is low impact to the environment and some cases a plus because it provides a corridor of travel for certain species that was not there before due to invasive species. The project is good because it will attract environmentally friendly companies to the area, like Google for example, and many others that demand this benefit for their employees. A greenway is basically a small road that cuts through natural habitat (in some cases). Regardless, you people can get on board or take a backseat because the momentum is there and the train will not stop. You do not do the work, you do not attend the meetings, you do not make the decisions so deal with it or get the hell out of town. I have no need for 0%ters. By the way, if you have transportation woes, ride the freaking bus. Enjoy your free time in one of the many parks accross the county. The ones located in the low income areas are trashed and the County is tired of cleaning up after you.

JoshBrem writes:

Mr Ezduzit,

Bro, Im totally agreeing with you. Clearly you are an expert in this matter, and you're right no-one can stop these sort of actions. I take solace in knowing that projects are pushed through by people that obvious take the time to do real solid research such a professional like yourself Mr. Ezduzit. You're right get out of the way different people, NO, get OUT of town hell ya, and let us in and have FUN. I think you're right too as you say in the last sentence, probably low income people anyway. Wink wink. I hear ya bro.

Josh Bremseth
leaving all meetings and decisions to others.

notanotherboulder writes:

ezduzit, you are really illustrating haworth's point about the class divide—"the County is tired of cleaning up after you"?
your ignorant & prejudice attitude was what she was talking about. The low-income areas of Knoxville are neglected & marginalized by the City. Do you think that perhaps over time this could lead residents of those areas to feel disempowered and hopeless enough to throw their trash on the ground?...
The general public's misunderstanding of the intricate & insidious consequences of the class divide are very saddening.

Further, the real motive comes out: "This project is good because it will attract 'environmentally friendly' companies to the area, like Google for example."
Anyone who thinks Google is an environmentally friendly company should probably take off their rose-colored reading glasses and really look into things.
Try this brilliant investigative story for starters: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.ph...

And anyway, that really is what this is about, isn't it? Attracting business (& becoming the next Boulder or Austin). As the MP story says, Pilot is the #1 donor to Legacy Parks. Gee, this is really starting to look more and more corporate-backed.

ezduzit writes:

in response to notanotherboulder:

ezduzit, you are really illustrating haworth's point about the class divide—"the County is tired of cleaning up after you"?
your ignorant & prejudice attitude was what she was talking about. The low-income areas of Knoxville are neglected & marginalized by the City. Do you think that perhaps over time this could lead residents of those areas to feel disempowered and hopeless enough to throw their trash on the ground?...
The general public's misunderstanding of the intricate & insidious consequences of the class divide are very saddening.

Further, the real motive comes out: "This project is good because it will attract 'environmentally friendly' companies to the area, like Google for example."
Anyone who thinks Google is an environmentally friendly company should probably take off their rose-colored reading glasses and really look into things.
Try this brilliant investigative story for starters: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.ph...

And anyway, that really is what this is about, isn't it? Attracting business (& becoming the next Boulder or Austin). As the MP story says, Pilot is the #1 donor to Legacy Parks. Gee, this is really starting to look more and more corporate-backed.

Hell yea, let Pilot put money back into the community....and this is a bad thing? Attract new companies, decrease unemployment, better jobs, more taxes for education and other city services. OR.....let this City stagnate. Legacy Parks is doing something the City does not have the money to do....create more high-quality parks that everyone can enjoy. The Urban Wilderness Trails are located in the middle of a traditional low income area and most of the residents in the area are receptive and some use the trails. These trails WILL increase their property values. How is this Bad? This is a pure win- win situation.

ezduzit writes:

in response to JoshBrem:

Mr Ezduzit,

Bro, Im totally agreeing with you. Clearly you are an expert in this matter, and you're right no-one can stop these sort of actions. I take solace in knowing that projects are pushed through by people that obvious take the time to do real solid research such a professional like yourself Mr. Ezduzit. You're right get out of the way different people, NO, get OUT of town hell ya, and let us in and have FUN. I think you're right too as you say in the last sentence, probably low income people anyway. Wink wink. I hear ya bro.

Josh Bremseth
leaving all meetings and decisions to others.

I am a professional and I have worked hard my whole life to get there without handouts. I do know know the facts and understand the reality of the situation. Why should my time and money go to suppport programs, initiatives, etc. that benefit the few instead of the majority that actually funds said programs and initiatives? I exercise, I mountain bike, my family enjoys the greenways, and we are healthy. We work hard, we contribute to society, we are educated, we participate, and we are informed. This is available to all citizens in this country. Myself and others want a better life for ourselves and we work hard to achieve those goals. This holds true for creation of the Urban Wilderness Trails. The builders have pride in the trails and maintain them without taxpayer support. Uncle Sam cannot continue to carry the load of the lazy forever.

Longfellow writes:

By creating the trails in South Knoxville, hundreds of acres of land have been preserved for future residents of Knoxville by the work that has been done by Legacy Parks, The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, Knox County and The City of Knoxville as well as many others.

I use these trails for recreation and am glad to have them for that purpose. I also know people who use these trails as a link to the Will Skelton Greenway to commute to downtown Knoxville . I've done this myself. I am a cyclist and environmentalist. Mountain Bikers in Knoxville don't take away from the greenway movement, they substantiate it and for a person who espouses cycling as transportation to demonize a group of cyclists is divisive and destructive to the whole movement in my opinion. I choose not to let someone's words divide me off into a "camp" where I can be identified as different. Parker Palmer once wrote (and I paraphrase) that the more we focus on our differences the more we begin to objectify each other. Once I become an object to you, I have no worth and you might not even see me as human; at that point you can justify any actions at all toward me. We are people who value nature and yet we are choosing not to see our commonalities, only our differences.

I'll champion trails for recreation any day of the week and also work hard to make sure Knoxville continues to become the best bike friendly community it can be.

Sam Adams

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